"Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things."
People hate the feeling of being caught in a rut. Doing the same thing over and over and over can drive someone insane.
When it comes to fitness though, consistency is key. You need a stable routine in order to both track and make progress.
So why on Earth would you try to CONFUSE your muscles?
Confused about what I'm even talking about? Welcome to the club.
What is muscle confusion? Well, it doesn't exist; it's a fictional technique like Airbending and Force Lightning, except not nearly as cool as those. That being said, I'll gladly explain it for you.
According to broscience experts, muscle confusion is an attempt to "shock your body" by mixing up the exercises. When stuck on a certain lift (Squat, Deadlift, etc.) simply switch to a variant (Front Squat, Romanian Deadlift) to break through the plateau. Stuck at 185 on Bench Press? Well switch over to dumbbells for a week and guess what! You'll be benching 315 next time! Holy cow that's amazing!
...the sad part is, I'm not even exaggerating their views that much...
Look, your muscles don't have their own brains. There is no on/off switch inside your cell walls that suddenly clicks when you pick a different exercise. Even the logic behind switching makes no sense: if you're stuck on Barbell Bench Press, than why would you stop doing it and opt for Dumbbell Incline Bench Press for 3 weeks instead?
You know what would get your Barbell Bench Press strength higher? Performing Barbell Bench Press on a regular basis. I mean how hard is this to understand?!?! Focus on getting stronger on the same exercises from week to week and the results will speak for themselves.
And when I say get stronger, I'm not saying to train like a powerlifter (triples, doubles, singles). That stuff just primes your nervous system to use the muscle you already have instead of building new muscle.
I'm saying that if right now you can do 10 pull ups with perfect form, you should aim to be doing 12 pull ups a few weeks from now.
Now imagine you get to the point where you can do 12 pull ups with 90 lbs dangling from your waist. Your lats would be Hulk size!
Want your chest to pop out like a superhero? Get to the point where you can bench your bodyweight for 15 reps and it surely will.
I'm a big fan of minimizing the stuff you do at the gym, and your exercise selection is no exception.
To truly sculpt your body, there are 4 main lifts you should all be building your weightlifting programs around:
- Overhead Press
- Bench Press
I recommend other exercises for your routines as well, but these 4 are the essential ones.
Now muscle confusion experts would say that even on these essential lifts, you have to "mix it up" to get your body to keep growing and reach its potential.
If your body is better built for Sumo Deadlifts than Conventional Deadlifts, why bother switching?
If you can't do half your bodyweight for 10 reps on Standing Overhead Press, do you really think switching it to Behind the Neck Press will make much difference?
Progressive overload is key to your muscle growth. There are other pathways to achieve muscle hypertrophy, but this is by far the most important.
When You Should Mix It Up
Muscle confusion is definitely nonexistent. Overtraining, however, is very real.
If you read my post on rep ranges, you'll know that the best gains are made with emphasis on 80-85% of your 1RM and some sets done as low as 65% of your 1RM.
The trouble though is that heavy lifting catches up with your body pretty fast.
So I would suggest that every 8-10 weeks you take a deload week. NOT a week off; just a lighter week. How to properly deload is something I"ll cover in a later post.
Muscle confusion is just another overrated and poorly cited myth in broscience.
Stick to the basics and you'll prevent yourself from being trapped in a maze!
(see what I did there? I bet you were wondering why I uploaded that photo)